There is nothing like a Walk the Moon show. Not a single set in Zilker Park on Saturday came close to the supercharged, indefatigable, neon-drenched dance lunacy that the Ohio band cooked up for ACL Fest.
Over the course of their setlist, the "Shut Up and Dance" artists proved that positivity and really sweet moves can get a festival crowd going better than anything else. Follow their lead, and you’ll be entertaining the masses in no time.
1. Prove that you’re more than the hits. Walk the Moon opened (after entering to "The Circle of Life") with "Jenny," a cut off their first album. Want to prove that your band is more than your smash song of the summer, or that your lead singer — in this case Nicholas Petricca — is a silver-tongued devil capable of persuading anyone to move? Learn from this example.
2. Own the synthesia. On "Sidekick," the ever-colorful Petricca brought to mind that old saying about dogs and their owners starting to look alike. Walk the Moon’s jackhammer guitars and sparkling synths sound like a vibrant ’80s-themed house party. Accordingly, the band slathers themselves in color, especially their frontman — red Mohawk, liberal use of body paint, white skinny jeans and enough bright bracelets to cut off your circulation.
3. Invent your own genre. After "Avanlanche," one phrase came to mind — synth romanticism.
4. Be uniters, not dividers. "Different Colors" is a message song, which is often code for "cheesiest song we wrote." This ode to individuality and self-expression, however, inspired the first of many spontaneous instances of that most hallowed of concert traditions, the wave.
5. Move unless you are dead, but move even then. Petricca’s patented combination of kinda doing the running man and drumming at the same time while at the mic; his sliding a hand over the keyboard like he’s pulling back a curtain; guitarist Eli Maiman’s constant jumps to the lip of the stage? All made "Tightrope" all the more tight.
6. Get angry and smash. In case anyone thought Walk the Moon was only about poptimism, "It’s Up To You" quashed the notion. Petricca admitted that most of the band’s songs are about love, dancing and sex, but said "we were really pissed off when we wrote this song." The squealing ax and screamo vocals were certainly not about love or dancing. (Maybe sex, though.)
7. Harmony, harmony, harmony. "Work This Body" featured the best use of synchronized dance moves and vocal teamwork of the weekend thus far. Also: "Star Wars" theme interlude.
8. Make the party mean something, too. For a little heart-on-sleeve, "Portugal" delivered: "’cause even by yourself, my love, you are something else."
9. Team work makes the dream work. Petricca may be the frontman, but on "Lisa Baby," Maiman worked overtime to keep up with the singer’s kinetic crowd work. To be honest, it’s even more impressive to make so much eye contact with an audience when you’re spitting hot fire on a set of strings.
10. Expel the B.S. A Walk the Moon show, at some point, turns into a zen, self-help therapy session of swirling bodies and expelling negative energy. Admittedly, to the cynic, it sounds like public school counselor mumbo jumbo. But when it precedes "I Can Lift a Car," with its spacey soundscapes and Wheatus-soundalike verses … well, by this point in the show, no one was feeling too cool for anything.
11. Give ’em what they want. Of course Walk the Moon played "Shut Up and Dance" close to last. Of course it was the most intensely joyful moment of the set. Remarkably, pockets throughout the small army of people turned in to face each other, scream the words "We were bound to be together" and flail every body part that was flailable. Fittingly, it seems that the band would want it this way. Don’t you dare look back, indeed.
12. Reward the diehards. Sure, a lot of folks moved on after "Shut Up and Dance," many on their way to see Alabama Shakes. But a capper of "Anna Sun," the band’s first single and an embryonic version of their big-hearts-big-sounds dance rock, rewarded the people who had been with them since the start. With shows like these, how could they not stay?